Muck Poker Rules – How to Fold Your Hand Properly
Last Updated: November 2, 2022
If you are new to poker, chances are you have heard poker players use the term “muck” and thought to yourself: What does muck mean in poker?
The term muck in poker describes the action where a player discards their hole cards face-down towards the middle of the table.
While this action seems pretty straightforward, there are a lot of ways to do it wrong. To help you avoid these situations, we have prepared a guide on how to muck in poker.
What Is Mucking in Poker?
Mucking also known as folding is an action that players perform when they decide that they are done with the poker hand, and they “throw it away.”
The term “mucking” is derived from the term “muck,” which represents the pile of discarded cards on the poker table.
Mucking signalizes that a player has performed an action in which he added his hole cards to the pile of discarded cards on the table.
The muck pile can consist of:
- Cards that were accidentally exposed during the play
- Burned cards
- Mucked or folded cards from players that were involved in the hand
Mucking can be done on two occasions:
- During any of the betting rounds
- At showdown, when a player lost and does not want to show his hand to other players at the table (if a player mucks a hand at showdown, it means that he has accepted defeat)
It is important to note that in games with a shot clock, there are three ways that the player's card will be considered as mucked:
- If a player folds his cards face down towards the poker dealer
- If a player’s time bank runs out
- If a player verbally announces a fold before mucking his cards
Rules of Mucking
While most players consider mucking a pretty straightforward action, there are still some rules to remember. These rules are created and followed to protect the integrity of the game.
- Mucking can’t be undone – If a player throws away his cards towards the dealer, his hand is considered folded and this action cannot be undone. You should never try to take your cards back as this is against poker rules. Because of this, it is very important to be sure that you want to fold your hole cards before pushing them toward the muck
- Never show your cards when mucking unless you are heads up at showdown (we advise against this even in these situations). Showing one or more cards when you decide to fold can seriously impact the decisions of other players at the table and you should never do this, instead, be sure to carefully push the cards without turning them over
- Do not muck your cards before it is your turn to act. You should never expose your intention to muck before it is your turn to act, as you are giving away information that can impact the course of the hand. This is considered against the rules and a breach of poker etiquette
When it comes to live poker, one of the ways in which you can prevent yourself from mucking your hole cards before it is your turn to act is not to look at your hand until it is your turn to act.
We strongly recommend that even after you have been dealt two cards, you wait and pay attention to other players and their actions. You can also pick up additional information with this approach.
Only after it is your turn to act, you should check your hole cards and make a decision on if you are going to continue with the hand or muck your cards.
Mucking Options in Online Poker
For online poker players, there are a lot fewer options for mucking. This means there are also fewer situations in which you can make a mistake when performing this action.
However, this does not mean that you should take mucking for granted if you play online. There are still some options that you can adjust to make your life easier.
For example, on most online poker sites, you can set up your mucking options in settings. Many online poker sites offer the following options:
- Muck losing hand
- Don’t show a winning hand
- Don’t show when folding last
Ticking the first option means that each time you lose a hand at a showdown, your cards will be mucked without being shown to your opponents.
Selecting the second option means that each time you win a hand because your opponent folded, your hand will not be revealed.
And lastly, if you choose the third option, your hand will not be revealed in situations where you are last to fold.
It is important to note that you are allowed to select all three options if you choose to do so.
Note: On poker sites that allow HUDs (Heads up Displays), even if you select the option “Muck losing hand,” your opponents can still find out what cards you had if they visit the Hand History option in their tracking software.
Should You Show or Should You Muck?
When talking about mucking in poker, most newbie players are often not sure if they should muck or show their winning hands when their opponent folds.
This question derives from the fact that the feeling of accomplishment is much stronger when other people know about it.
For example, if they bluff an opponent in a big pot, they feel the urge to show their cards to get additional acknowledgment for their good play from the rest of the table, as well as to tilt their opponent for making an incorrect fold.
However, this can be a double-edged sword, especially if you are an inexperienced player.
Each time you show your cards when you are not required to, you are giving additional information to your opponents.
Essentially you are giving them an opportunity to pick up on different patterns and ways in which you play different hands. This can prove to be costly, especially if you regularly play against the same people.
Don't get fooled by the fact that poker players on TV show their cards after a big bluff. There is one major difference between the games you play and televised poker.
The players in televised games eventually find out their opponents' holdings after the show, while your opponents will never find out which cards you had unless you show them.
A good rule of thumb is to never show your hole cards to your opponents if you are not required to.
Getting Fancy With Mucking
Poker players that play long live sessions know how dull poker can become, especially if you are card dead.
So, they find ways to make even such simple actions as mucking somewhat exciting!
Here are some of the more interesting ways in which poker players perform mucking in live sessions.
Mucking by Sliding Cards
Sliding cards towards the dealer, in order to muck them, has been one of the most popular ways of mucking since card games have been invented.
Players perform this action by spreading hole cards face down with two fingers and sliding them towards the dealer.
Because cards are pushed down with two fingers and the action is performed slowly, this is also one of the safest ways to muck cards without revealing them.
Tossing Cards to the Muck
Mucking cards by tossing them toward the middle of the poker table requires a little more work than the previous option because the player has to pick up the cards.
Also, this way of mucking opens the door for one or more cards to be revealed by accident, so players who like to fold cards in this way have to be extra careful.
Flicking Cards to Muck
As the description suggests, players who use this way of mucking pick up their cards and twist their hand when propelling the cards towards the dealer, resulting in cards slightly circling through the air before landing on the table.
Just like with the tossing cards to muck option, this way of folding cards can result in one or more hole cards being revealed if the player is not careful enough or does not often muck cards in this way.
Mucking Cards by Pushing
Pushing cards towards the middle to muck them is one of the most straightforward ways in which a player can fold his cards.
This way of folding does not require the player to lift their hole cards, as they just push them away. Along with sliding, this remains one of the safest ways in which a player can fold their cards.
Mucking hole cards with the helicopter move is the most complicated way in which a player can fold his hole cards.
This move is a combination of the toss and the flick, because it requires the player to lift his cards as well as to add an extra motion to his wrist so that the cards would spin in the air while remaining parallel with the table.
This way of mucking is not for poker beginners as it can very easily reveal one or more hole cards if not performed the proper way.